Another daunting test faces Redhawks

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team already played three squads from major conferences.

The Missouri Valley Conference might not quite be considered major, but it's no slouch.

After taking on teams from the Big 12, Big Ten and Mountain West, Southeast will test itself against the highly regarded MVC today with a contest at Bradley.

The Redhawks (2-7) and Braves (4-4) will square off at 1 p.m. in Peoria, Ill.

"They're going to be a bigger, stronger, more athletic team than we just faced," said Southeast acting coach Zac Roman, whose squad suffered its fourth straight loss Wednesday, 71-66 at Western Illinois. "It will be a big challenge."

Southeast will look to keep things a bit more competitive today than it did in its previous three games against higher-level opponents.

The closest the Redhawks came was an 88-68 loss at Kansas State of the Big 12. They also fell 75-41 at Iowa of the Big Ten and 102-59 at New Mexico of the Mountain West.

"We've played teams from three very good conferences, and the Missouri Valley is also a very good conference," Roman said.

Bradley is coming off a 21-17 season that saw the Braves place second in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.

That's part of a successful three-year run for the Braves, who have won at least 21 games in each of those campaigns. They have made three straight postseason appearances, including a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2005-06.

"Coach [Jim] Les does a good job with them," said Roman, an assistant on last season's Southeast team that lost at Bradley 90-72. "I remember a hostile environment last year."

The Braves, who have not yet played an MVC game, feature a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging in double figures.

Dodie Dunson, a 6-foot-3 junior guard who played his freshman season at Iowa State before attending a junior college last year, leads the way at 12.9 points per game.

Theron Wilson, a 6-5 senior forward, averages 12.4 points and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds.

An overall lack of execution and ability to hit shots have been Southeast's major shortcomings, but Roman thought the Redhawks played well at Western Illinois.

"We just have to build on the positives from that game and correct our mistakes," he said.

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